Interview: Tangler CEO, Martin Wells

I interviewed Tangler CEO, Martin Wells, for an upcoming post at Web Worker Daily (should be up some time in the next day or so). Martin had a lot of interesting things to say, so here’s the complete interview for your reading pleasure.

Martin’s a great guy. Very passionate about his product and his team, and it shows. The Tangler crew are working very hard to make the product different. Check it out.

On to the interview.

I’m speaking with Martin Wells, CEO of new Web 2.0 collaboration startup Tangler. Martin, Hi. Welcome to acidlabs!

Hey Steve. Thanks for the opportunity.

So, let’s get started. What was your motivation behind Tangler?

Tangler really started from the frustration of using web forums; we wanted to make it easier for people to engage in discussion about the things they care about. Forums are very accessible, but they tended to be clunky and hard to use. They also became silos that limited discussion to a single place. We wanted to set group discussion free – if it loves you it will come back! – by making it independent and ubiquitous. Talk about what you want, wherever you want.

How is Tangler different to other forum and real-time collaboration tools such as Google Groups, Skype and forums in various places?

From a feature standpoint Tangler blurs the lines between what you might think of as traditional instant messaging, chat, mailing lists and forums. We’re web-based and topically structured like a forum, but interaction is real-time, like instant messaging. We also support desktop notification, so you don’t need to stay in the browser to be part of the conversation. The result is just better web-based communication amongst groups of people.

Tangler is also a social system, so users can add each other as friends and keep track of what they’re talking about.

Tell us about some of the unique features of Tangler and how they work.

The mix of persistent, real-time, structured discussion is somewhat unique; though there have been plenty of attempts at innovating on persistent discussion already.

The real value though sits in Tangler’s approach to creating a network of discussion, accessible from everywhere – such as being embedded inside a website or blog. We want people to talk about things where they are, rather than where the discussion system happens to be. And we do that whilst still offering the power of a centralised discussion system through groups, tracking and a social structure. We’d like to call it “discussion 2.0”, but I think we’d have to take the e out of our name to really pull that off.

Who do you see being the target audience for Tangler, and why?

Tangler is a broad tool, and it’s open to anybody right now. If you have a group of people who you think would benefit from using a web-based discussion tool then jump in and create a group. You can also just browse around the existing network, there’s about 400 public groups to choose from so far.

One of our early focuses though is in helping other Web 2.0 companies use Tangler as a feedback system. Companies like Omnidrive, Particls and Cluztr have found it to be a powerful way of building a community around their products. They get a great tool for gathering feedback and interacting with their users, as well as the added benefit of an existing audience already testing other products. So far about 30 companies are using the system, with more joining each day.

Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the new features planned for Tangler?

We’re still in beta, so there’s lots to do. The big ones would be RSS, an open API and tagging. Support for embedding real-time discussion inside other web sites is also coming soon.

Martin, thanks for your time. Good luck to you and the Tangler Team!

If you’re interested in more coverage of Tangler, you should also check out Allen Stern’s video review at CenterNetworks.

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